Special Coverage

Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space
Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines
Vibration Tables Shake Up Aerospace and Car Testing
Supercomputer Cooling System Uses Refrigerant to Replace Water
Computer Chips Calculate and Store in an Integrated Unit
Electron-to-Photon Communication for Quantum Computing

Using Whispering-Gallery-Mode Resonators for Refractometry

Refractive and absorptive properties are inferred by correlating predictions with measurements.

A method of determining the refractive and absorptive properties of optically transparent materials involves a combination of theoretical and experimental analysis of electromagnetic responses of whispering-gallery-mode (WGM) resonator disks made of those materials. The method was conceived especially for use in studying transparent photorefractive materials, for which purpose this method affords unprecedented levels of sensitivity and accuracy. The method is expected to be particularly useful for measuring temporally varying refractive and absorptive properties of photorefractive materials at infrared wavelengths. Still more particularly, the method is expected to be useful for measuring drifts in these properties that are so slow that, heretofore, the properties were assumed to be constant.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Analysis methodologies, Optics, Materials properties

USB CompuScope

GaGe, Lockport, IL, has introduced the USB CompuScope family of high-performance USB digitizers that includes three models featuring up to two input channels, up to 1.1 GS/s maximum sampling per channel, 12- or 14-bit vertical resolution, 128 MS of acquisition memory, and up to 1.2 GHz of input analog bandwidth. The digitizers provide high signal fidelity and feature Effective Number Of Bits (ENOB) performance values of over 10 or 11 at a 70-MHz signal frequency, depending on the model. Each model comes equipped with a USB cable, a 100/220V power cable, and a lightweight carrying case. The digitizers connect to a laptop computer, providing an ultra-portable digitizer solution. Each model operates under the GageScope standalone oscilloscope software, or from any GaGe CompuScope Software Development kit. The devices incorporate SP Devices’ patented interleaving technology.

Posted in: Products

NASA Tests Devices to Increase Truck Fuel Efficiency

Saving the nation $10 billion annually in diesel fuel costs may be possible in a few years, thanks to new devices developed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and now being tested at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California.

Posted in: UpFront

Real-Time Analysis and Reporting of Water-Borne Microorganisms

A company seeks a technology that enables monitoring of the microorganism content of stored potable water in real time, and reporting the water’s status to assure its continued potability even after storage times as long as a year. The apparatus must be small and lightweight, require minimal power, operate at ambient pressures from sea level (14.7 psi) down to 8 psi, require little or no maintenance, and not require extensive specialized training to operate or maintain.

Posted in: NASA Tech Needs

Technologies for Printed Electronics

An organization seeks printing technologies to produce higher-current miniature circuitry. Approaches of interest include reducing use of expensive inks, eliminating a plating step, and increasing adhesion to a variety of substrates. An additional area of interest is to enable multilayer structures for more complex circuitry. The company would consider an alternate ink material that may have lower viscosity but can produce the trace thickness capable of handling sufficient current; higher silver loadings (on the order of 40-60%); or an inexpensive seed ink that could be electroplated (or used with electroless deposit), and then electroplated afterwards.

Posted in: NASA Tech Needs

Co-Extrusion Process Prevents Ingredient Co-Mingling

This co-extrusion process helps turn a batch process into a continuous production process, thus speeding the production line and enabling production of materials that otherwise might be difficult or impossible to produce using conventional extrusion and post-extrusion processing.

Posted in: Techs for License

Shape-Memory Diaphragm Shutter Valve for Fluid Flow Interception and Icing Prevention

This valve for gases, liquids, or powdery materials has an extremely simple and low-cost structure. Opening and closing functions are generated by using shape-memory wires, which move a diaphragm shutter element. The shape memory can reshape the diaphragm to lift away from the closed position. Then, with the change of temperature or current, it can return back to the closed position. This open/shut movement can be simple for on/off fluid requirements. It can also be rapid to effect displacement of a fluid. Particular positioning of shape-memory elements guarantees deicing functionality as resistance along the alloy can generate heat to prevent freezing.

Posted in: Techs for License

NASA Environmental Monitoring and Control Technology Needs

NASA’s long-duration human missions far from Earth and operation of closed-loop life support systems have critical needs for monitoring and control for environmental quality and certifying recycled life-support consumables. Monitoring technologies are employed to assure that the chemical and microbial content of the air and water environment of the astronaut crew habitat falls within acceptable limits, and that the life-support system is functioning properly and efficiently. The sensors may also provide data to automated control systems.

Posted in: NASA Tech Needs

Innovative Waste Heat Recovery Systems and Improvements with Advanced Turbomachinery

The increasing cost of fuel and U.S. dependency on foreign fuel supplies has renewed interest in conserving energy and in generating electric power using otherwise wasted heat energy from prime mover processes. Such power generation systems are typically based on the thermodynamic Rankine cycle or the reverse Rankine cycles (i.e., a vapor compression, a.k.a. heat pumping). These systems can use water or organic-based (i.e., refrigerant-type) working fluids for Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) power generation.

Posted in: Articles, Energy, Automation, Water, Electric power, Waste heat utilization, Thermodynamics, Refrigerants

Design Data Management Keeps Rover Circuit Boards in Check

Design data management system DKB Resources Santa Barbara, CA 805-963-8709 www.dkbresources.com

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) contracted DKB Resources to support the design of many of the printed circuit boards (PCBs) on the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity using the company’s automated design data management system that tracks and streamlines communications among all the groups responsible for the PCBs. DKB also provided PCBs for the Phoenix Mars surface probe that landed in 2008, and the Curiosity Rover in the forthcoming Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Program.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Integrated circuits, On-board diagnostics, On-board diagnostics (OBD), Data management, Spacecraft

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